“In the language of “Adinkra” each symbol carries a complex meaning. The Adinkra symbol of a large bird walking forward while turning its long neck and head toward the path behind it reminds us to “go back to your roots.”
– Glenn McClure
Being back in the Mysore room at the Yoga Shala I feel as if I have come back to some part of my roots. Don’t misunderstand me. This is not some romanticized fabrication of me grasping at straws to reconcile my yoga journey, rather this sense of “going back” is more personal.
Maybe it emerges from the sense of community I receive there. Maybe it comes from once again sharing this practice with students. Or maybe it shines through the dedication, love and support this community brings every morning to their mats. This often inspires me when I become consumed by the obstacles we are faced with daily. Certainly, I must attribute a good chunk of this to the practice itself, one that has grown over the years not only physically but more so mentally. Which brings me to why I am writing this…
I have been thinking a lot lately about the importance of the ‘Primary Series’. How not only is it the first series in Ashtanga yoga but it is the ‘root’, the beginning, the start. Sometimes I wonder if it has been somewhat lost not only on the mat but how we see this practice within ourselves. We seem to be in such a rush to move forward, not wanting to look back… in our lives and on our mat. Maybe we feel there is something greater ahead of us. Maybe we feel the further we move forward we are closer to enlightment and less likely having to face our fears. Or maybe we feel it’s just the thought that the more advanced we are the better and more important we look to others… at least that is what we might think.
Regardless of what series a student is practicing, going back to the ‘root’ can be more rewarding than one might realize. What do I mean by this? For me, I feel going back to the Primary Series can place certain responsibilities and findings that could have been missed along the way. We must make sure not to be in such a rush that we miss the beginning. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying one should not move forward from Primary Series or not be interested or curious about moving into 2nd series, etc. Peg Mulqueen from Ashtanga Dispatch said, “It’s not only ok to find yourself interested in new shapes as series – but really helpful in harnessing the mind.” The important part is we need to realize where this is cultivated from and not let the mind be in such a rush. "Interest is one of our most available motivators in helping us focus."
So, let us begin our trip by returning to the ‘root’. Take this time, look at your practice and really see what is happening. Are you breathing, are you focused on your own mat, where are you moving from and are you farther ahead than you need to be. Really sink into your practice, let it be exactly what you need and not what you think is expected from you. If this means going back to the very beginning then go back, begin your Surya Namaskra A, connect with every movement, every breath, every drishti. ‘Going back’ teaches us how we got to where we are now and how everything begins at the ‘root’!
When you look at why you wake up and step on your mat each day remember it is for the purpose of understanding our present. We must remember that our practices are more than what series we are doing. Where you are in your practice only defines one part, but the experiences along the way define much more. There are days when I feel like I don’t know anything, I should quit and never look back, but these are the days I go back to the ‘root’ and discover again why I was brought to my mat in the first place.
Slow down and enjoy the journey back… it can be what you were missing all along.
I wrote this at the beginning of September when I started back at the Yoga Shala Calgary. I held on to it, unsure when to share it. But after listening to Peter Sanson speak at his conference this past weekend and with October starting, a month of giving thanks and gratitude, I thought it was the perfect time for me to let go and share.
Thank you for your love and support